Under the guise of management fee, controversial government agency PADU Corporation (PADU) made an unprecedented request for RM7 million or 2% of the RM360 million meant to provide free computer tablets to teachers nationwide.
This came even after PADU had been paid RM1.1 million as one-off payment to manage the scheme by the project funder/Cash Cow, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under Phase 2.
The contractor, Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad (Utusan), refused to meet PADU’s 2% demand, stating in a letter dated 9 April 2018 that it was not agreeable to paying the said amount.
The salient points in the said letter, signed by none other than one of the key players in this scandalous project Datuk Mohd Noordin bin Abbas (a former banker), Managing Director of Utusan, are as follows:
The requests by PADU for the RM7 million or 2% management fees exceeded our authority including myself;
SKMM never agreed that this fees to be paid to PADU;
When this tablet project was discussed in 2016 the necessity of this fees had not been brought up;
During the meeting on 11 January 2018 Pengarah BTP and CEO of Padu, Puan Khadijah Abdullah, who had attended the meeting, had agreed to apply to Prime Minister Office through Minister of Education for the management fees; and
For Utusan, we act as a DELIVERY CONTRACTOR of the Tablets to the teachers as directed by PADU and MOE.’
The Four Key Little Napoleons For Phase 1 – 6
The RM7 million Or 2%
The 2% request raises a troubling question whether PADU, a company incorporated by guarantee under the purview of Ministry of Education (MOE), was asking for a “clawback” or “kickback”.
Yours truly will boldly regard this a “kickback” because it is a norm for management fee to be entered into contracts at the outset and more so not sat the tail end.
According to the said Utusan letter of 9 April 2018 even the MCMC was not informed about PADU seeking RM7 million from Utusan.
MCMC had granted the RM360 million funding to PADU, which contracted Utusan to provide 430,000 tablets, pre-installed with E-Tutor app and Utusan Malaysia newspaper, to teachers over seven phases.
If PADU needed another round of management fee, it should have incorporated the 2% into the contract at the start and informed the relevant authorities.
Doesn’t the demand for management fee, more than a year after the contract was signed, indicate that the price of the tablets was INFLATED?
Basically, there was too much money in hand that would encourage predators to prey on the millions of Ringgit.
After all, it was a ‘god sent’ contract whereby even delivery of the gadgets was ridiculously supported by Statutory Declaration (SD) in HERE.
In the SD, Utusan had specified that if it failed to deliver the gadgets, it will compensate PADU RM573 per tablet. The thing is, Padu was contracted to buy per tablet at RM853 from Utusan. At this moment no one know how much was the actual cost of the tablet.
According to a report from MOE, Huawei tablets were according to specs for Phase 1 and Lenovo for Phase 2 – 5 not according to specs. We will together discuss this damning report in more detail in another part later. If we are to assume that the actual cost of the tablet was RM573 per unit then, Utusan was making RM280 (RM853-RM573) per tablet for just playing its role as delivery boy so to speak. It was too good to be true that Utusan made a profit of RM280 per tablet! If the profit was RMM280 then Utusan would have made RM120.4 million for the 430,000 tablets! God forbid!
Is Epiweb Sdn Bhd A Special Purpose Vehicle For WHO?
Who was the real culprit behind this Special Purpose Vehicle “Utusan-Epiweb Sdn Bhd Collection Account”? Who was the biggest beneficiary of this special Purpose Vehicle? Only an in-depth investigation into the paper trail by MACC will reveal the real culprit. We are lucky that YB Gobind Singh Deo, the Minister of Communications and Multi Media had announced that his ministry will lodge a report with MACC over this scam. Lets see when the ministry will do it. Yours truly would have thought that in the light of what have been exposed the Minister of Education would have reported tis matter to MACC. may be the minister is too preoccupied with the sorting out the issue of black and white shoes!
Remember there was another middle man in this transaction called EPIWEB SDN BHD, the so-called supplier of the tablets to Utusan. En Khairul Firdaus, who is not a director of Epiweb Sdn Bhd and signed the supply agreement with Utusan. Upon receipt of RM18,402,690.25 on 27 April 201 (just before 14 GE) for most questionable Phase 6, the special purpose vehicle “UTUSAN-EPIWEB SDN BHD Collection Account” paid out RM10,402,690.25 to Redberry Sdn Bhd, which was not a party to the contract between Utusan – Padu or Epiweb Sdn Bhd – Utusan, HERE. The remaining RM8 million of the RM18,402,690.25 received from PADU went to Utusan. It would appear from this particular transaction Epiweb Sdn Bhd received nothing from the payment under Phase 6! This raises more questions for PADU and MOE to answer. For phase 1 – 5, did Reberry receive any payment from this special purpose vehicle – “Utusan – Epiweb Collection Account”?
Redberry Media Group (Redberry) is one of the special outfits of Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei, who was arrested and detained by MACC together with Ms Elizabeth Ken in connection with the ‘Speedy Gonzales’ Geeko Tech RM99.693 million deal with Tourism Malaysia for four days in January 2019. By coincidence, Ms Ms Elizabeth Ken, who is a shareholder and CEO of Geeko Tech Sdn Bhd and the media specialist of Redberry and Dato Dr’ Siew Ka Wei (Siew) is the MD of Redberry. Siew is also a current executive chairman of public listed company Ancom Bhd, which is the parent company of Redberry, and Group MD of Nylex Bhd (part of Ancom Bhd). Redberry is the owner of the defunct Malay Mail (printed version) and the equally famous Datuk Wong Sai Wan is the editor-in-chief, who is a director of several of Dato’ Dr Siew Ka Wei’s outfits. Datuk Wong is the only one of a few editors in chief in Malaysia , who is a director of several companies, HERE.
PADU, The “VENDOR FRIENDLY” – Must Be Shut Down!
By all accounts, one can declare PADU the most “vendor friendly” company in the world!
PADU must be shut down for gross mismanagement and sloppy supervision of what was a novel IT project to digitalise education. At last the little napoleons at the top management in PADU had fleeced it like other projects under the last BN administration. Its existence is a waste of public fund. In the interim, the PH government must commission a forensic audit into its accounts.
The deafening silence on the part of PADU and/or MOE is most alarming. Don’t tell us the Minister of Education is equally “Tidak Apa” as the little napoleons in PADU!
Stay Tuned – Part 7.